19 September 2013

How did that get here?

A lecture to celebrate HYMS' 10th anniversary is being held in conjunction with the University of York's Biology Open Lecture Series on Wednesday 20th November 2013.

Entitled "How did that get here? Tracking transmission and evolution of bacterial pathogens with high-throughput genomics", it will be given by Dr Julian Parkhill, of The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

It will be held in Physics P/X/001 at 5.30pm. Admission is free and no booking is required.

The last few years have seen a revolution in the cost and speed of sequencing DNA. Over just a few years, we have moved from being able to slowly sequence one genome at a time, to the current state-of-the-art, where high-throughput technologies allow us to sequence the genomes of hundreds of bacterial strains simultaneously.

This power allows us to find the very small differences that accumulate in genomes over time, and use these changes to reconstruct the recent ancestry of any disease-causing strain. This history tells us where these pathogens have come from, how they have travelled, and how they have avoided the obstacles, such as antibiotics and vaccines, that we have tried to put in their way.

This approach can be used on a global scale to see how epidemics of, for example, cholera (caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae) arise. It can also be used on a local scale to investigate outbreaks of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococus aureus) within a single hospital, and should soon allow us to rapidly identify and prevent such outbreaks.